(May 8, 2015) The Stephen Decatur girls’ soccer and basketball teams captured Bayside Conference championship titles this year.
Seniors Payton VanKirk, Jillian Petito and Ally Beck, and sophomore Lexie VanKirk, were members of both of those squads. The four girls also play lacrosse and their goal at the beginning of the season was to win their third Bayside title and complete the trifecta.
The lacrosse team accomplished that feat, but it wasn’t easy.
The Lady Seahawks took on the Queen Anne’s Lions on Tuesday at County Stadium in Salisbury and it was a battle.
“It was quite a game. It was a hard-fought game on both sides,” Decatur Coach Bob Musitano said after the Seahawks’ 9-7 victory.
After Queen Anne’s scored three goals in six minutes, Musitano called a timeout to settle his players down because they were really pumped up, he said.
Musitano and Assistant Coach Michelle Fluty told the Seahawks they needed to protect the ball and win every ground ball.
The timeout proved to be beneficial as the Seahawks netted five unanswered goals. Senior Blair Yesko kicked things off, scoring just over a minute later. Beck cut the lead to one and Payton VanKirk evened the score with nine minutes remaining in the first half. Lexie VanKirk and junior Elle Bargar provided Decatur with a 5-3 advantage, then Payton VanKirk made it 6-3 seven and a half minutes into the second half.
Queen Anne’s logged its fourth goal before VanKirk struck again.
The Lions netted three shots to tie the game 7-7 with nine minutes on the clock.
While each goal is important, Musitano said the one that proved to be the most significant was Beck’s, which gave Decatur an 8-7 advantage with 7:40 remaining.
She scooped up a ground ball in the defensive end and sprinted up the field.
“She had five girls on her. They chased her as she circled around and then she banged it in,” Musitano said. “She has unbelievable speed. I think [the goal] was a backbreaker for them.”
Yesko provided Decatur with an insurance goal with 4:15 to play. Sophomore Brigitte Ardis was awarded a free position shot and, instead of taking the ball to goal, she passed to Yesko who finished it.
The Seahawks worked to run down the clock and secure the victory and a Bayside title.
“I thought the girls played well. Team defense was awesome,” Musitano said. “They had a game plan and they worked hard.”
Payton VanKirk led Decatur with three goals.
“I think I can speak on behalf of Lexie, Jillian and Ally and say winning the Bayside championships in all three sports, especially against a very talented Queen Anne’s squad, is just an amazing feeling. I am blessed to have had the opportunity to call these three girls teammates and best friends,” she said. “We have definitely an unbreakable bond that I will always remember. I am so lucky to play with people who push me to be better.”
Winning the lacrosse Bayside title is a moment VanKirk said she will cherish forever. She said it was incredible when her teams won the Bayside championship in soccer and basketball, but lacrosse was, “just the sweetest victory of all.”
“It has been an amazing ride with this lacrosse team this year with a lot of big wins against tough competitors. This is the first year since the 2015 class started at Decatur that we have been able to dominate in the Bayside and winning was honestly a cherry on top for all of us,” VanKirk said. “I am so incredibly proud of my team. Everyone has played a big part in our success by stepping up and playing so well, and most importantly playing as a team. We are deep in talent, hustle and heart and I think this year we have all of the tools to make school history.”
Yesko and Beck chipped in with two goals apiece. Bargar and Lexie VanKirk tallied one each.
Petito stopped eight Queen Anne’s shots.
“I knew [it] was going to be a really hard game,” Petito said. “I knew that they all had good hard shots with good placement and that I needed to play really well.”
Petito said it is “beyond exciting” to win the lacrosse title, and to be able to share it with all the girls on her team is even better.
Capturing three titles in one year is a huge accomplishment, she said.
“We aren’t sure if it’s ever been done before, but I think it’s a pretty cool thing to say that we won three Bayside championships our senior year,” Petito said.
The Seahawks go into the regional tournament with a 13-0 record and a No. 1 seed in the 3A East Section I bracket. They received a first-round bye and will host the No. 4 James M. Bennett Clippers today, Friday, at 4:30 p.m.
When Decatur and Bennett went head-to-head on April 29, the Seahawks won 19-4.
Going into playoffs with an unblemished record and a conference title “gives us a ton of momentum,” Petito said.
“We are currently undefeated and we hope to keep it that way and make it all the way to the state final,” she said.
“We are pumped up to start playoffs on Friday and hope the community will come out and support us in our game against Bennett,” VanKirk added. “For right now, we are still on cloud nine from our huge victory … but are going to take it one game at a time and prepare for each opponent with the same hard work and intensity that we have all season, staying super motivated by the hopes of a state championship.”
If Decatur defeats Bennett, the squad will play the winner of today’s No. 2 Kent Island – No. 3 Parkside game on Monday in Berlin.
“They really have come together,” Musitano said. “It’s nice to watch them play and encourage each other … They understand what they need to do to win.”